Periods are a fact of life, period. Most women have periods, and we all survive every month of menstruation… but being on your period isn’t necessarily a fun experience. Sometimes period symptoms are painful and embarrassing, and other times we experience symptoms that are just weird.
Like, YAY you’re NOT pregnant! So here are 5-7 days of pain, bloating, munchies, moodiness, sensitivity, and more for your enjoyment! More like 5-7 days where all you want to do is hide under your blanket while you cuddle with a heating pad while you make your way through your stash of chocolate while trying to not cry. Yep, we’ve all been there.
But all of these weird symptoms of a period are actually caused by our hormones going completely crazy. It’s like the body spends the entire month getting ready to get pregnant, and then when that doesn’t happen, your uterus is like, “Well, I AM MAD.” Then we suffer.
But being on your period doesn’t always have to be painful. There are contraceptives that can help regulate hormone levels and essentially reduce some of the side effects of your period. Also, there are some over-the-counter pain medicines that are specifically created to alleviate pain caused by cramping.
So, don’t get bogged down in the period blues. Because when it comes to that time of the month, anything and everything can and will happen. You just have to be prepared and do not freak out if you notice something weird.
Here is a list of some of the bizarre — but normal things — you probably experience at some point during that time of the month.
Remember, if you are not sure or it’s something that bothers you, consult your doctor to make sure that your symptoms aren’t a sign of a more serious condition. Also, no question is stupid or dumb. It’s your body, stay informed, and don’t be afraid to ask.
Here are 15 weird (but totally normal) things that happen on your period:
1. You’re more sensitive to pain during your period (everywhere, not just cramps)
You may notice that during — or right before — your period, you are much more sensitive to pain — everywhere. Pain is caused by the lowering of your estrogen levels right before your period starts, and according to an article published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Changes in hormones can affect various body responses,” including pain tolerance.
2. Your voice changes at different points in your menstrual cycle
Did you know that during your period, your voice gets deeper? Believe it or not, your voice can drop as much as a few octaves, but you may not even notice. This happens more in women who do not take any form of hormonal contraception.
When your estrogen levels, which keep your voice at a higher octave, drop during your period, then your voice will drop in pitch, which usually occurs after you ovulate.
So could these changes in voice tone indicate how fertile you are? Or attract a mate at a certain time during the month? Interestingly, The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports in a study that vocal changes during the menstrual cycle are pretty subtle, and that “based on the present findings, it is not possible to make strong inferences about voice as a source of fertility status information.” Oh well.
3. You burn more calories during your period
Lucky for you, during your period, you burn more calories! Your estrogen and progesterone levels change, which then changes the fluid balance in your kidneys and in your blood. In turn, when your hormones are at a low point (during your period), it’s easier to get higher-intensity workouts and you’re less likely to get tired quickly — which means a better after-workout recovery, and more calories burned thereafter.
Bonus perks: exercising during your period can help reduce your cramping and pain, too.
4. You forget things more often when you’re on your period
When you are on your period, you may feel a bit foggy because your hormones are changing so frequently, that it’s hard for your brain to keep up. You might find that you are more forgetful, which is likely caused by low estrogen levels during your period.
5. You’re clumsier during your period
Yes, during your period, you may feel like the clumsiest person in the world — there is a reason for it. Studies suggest that because your hormones fluctuate, when your estrogen increases, your liver starts to produce its hormones that affect your kidneys, which causes you to bloat and retain fluid, making it harder for you to stay balanced.
6. You’re more susceptible to yeast infections at certain points in your cycle
During your period or right before, you are more susceptible to yeast infections. So if you are itching or burning down there, or if you’re feeling more vaginal pain than normal, it could be because you’re also suffering from yeast infection symptoms.
Your pH levels change during your period, which can trigger yeast or bacterial infections that can quickly get out of control. If you’re feeling symptoms of a yeast infection, consider making a visit to your gynecologist or investing in some over-the-counter yeast infection remedies to ease your symptoms.
7. You poop more (or less) during your period
Hormones, man — they even affect your poop. During your period, your progesterone levels fluctuate, which can cause you to have diarrhea or constipation — or a combination of the two.
If you’re like most women, you probably experience constipation right before your period, and then diarrhea or more poop once your period starts.
If you already have tummy troubles, then you might find that you have a greater chance of having much more frequent problems and abdominal pain when it’s that time of the month, too.
Also, poop happens because prostaglandins, like hormones, cause a chemical reaction that controls certain bodily functions — in this case, contracting and relaxing muscles. During your period, your body sends prostaglandins to your uterus to contract (thanks, cramps), but sometimes some pesky prostaglandins stray to your digestive system causing you to run to the nearest bathroom.
8. You gain weight during your period (and lose it right after)
Weight gain right before and during your period is normal. Progesterone levels are high right before your period starts, which stimulates your appetite and makes you eat more because you are hungry. (Ever get SUPER hungry right before your period and eat everything in sight? That’s why.)
Next, low serotonin levels, which happen when your estrogen levels drop and your period starts, can cause cravings, which makes you eat more of the bad stuff.
Water retention is another side effect of progesterone loss — your body’s blood vessels expand to accommodate more fluid, and more fluid means more weight. This might make you crave salty snacks, too, which makes you retain even MORE fluid. It’s okay though — water weight goes away quickly.
Insulin resistance can be another factor in your weight gain during your period. This is because when people who are insulin resistant, right before their period have sugar cravings caused by progesterone. When you are insulin resistant, sugar is not processed normally in your body so it stays in your bloodstream longer, which contributes to weight gain.
Finally, you may notice that when you are on your period, your hormone levels fluctuate causing you to be tired, bloated, and crampy. These symptoms make you want to not move and keep you from doing anything active (which you should try to resist because if you exercise, it helps reduce these symptoms).
9. You crave meat during that time of the month
During your period, you may notice you are craving meat, meat, and more meat. Steak sounds great. When you are craving meat, it can mean that your iron levels are low — red meat is rich in iron, which you lose in your period blood. So your body just could be letting you know that it needs more iron.
The American Journal of Epidemiology did a study where they found that women who had the worst period symptoms ate the least amount of iron. So, if you are experiencing some bad period symptoms, then you may want to chow down at a steakhouse and then go talk to your doctor to make sure you don’t have an iron deficiency.
10. You see blood clots when you go to the bathroom
On top of having to deal with blood during your period, you may see some bloody clumps when you are changing your tampon or pad — don’t worry, it’s normal. Blood clots are caused by your uterus shedding its lining, which consists of coagulated blood, mucus, and developed tissue. All this leaves your body during your cycle.
I know, gross, but we all experience these things. You need to know what’s normal and what isn’t, so if you start noticing that you are seeing blood clots past the first day or two of your period, then you may want to consult your doctor to make sure everything’s fine.
But overall, clots just mean that you’re a heavy bleeder. Lucky you!
11. Your breasts are WAY more sensitive around your period
When you are about to start your period or you are on it, you may notice that your breasts are more sensitive than usual. You may be super tender and any slight touch might be painful, but it’s totally normal. Things should go back to how they usually are within a few days.
12. You notice different discharges at different points in your menstrual cycle
Like number 10, different types of discharge are normal — in most cases. Discharge is good for your body and shows you that your body is functioning as it should.
Don’t panic if you notice brown discharge — typically this happens when your uterus is expelling the first few bits or last little bits of period blood, causing your discharge to have a brown tint to it. Completely normal.
But keep in mind: if you experience green, yellow, or a strong-smelling discharge, definitely consult your doctor to make sure everything’s healthy down there. Things like yeast infections and other conditions can cause discharge that you’ll need to clear up with medication.
13. You suffer from headaches and migraines during your period
When you are at the end of your period, you may find that you experience some major headaches or migraines. This is because your estrogen levels decrease dramatically towards the end of your cycle. According to Alyssa Dweck, MD in an article on Health, more than 70% of women suffer from migraines or excruciating headaches during their period.
14. Your sleep quality sucks right before your period
You may have noticed that right before or during your period you are plagued by nights of insomnia. Sleep issues can be caused by your progesterone hormone levels dropping. Progesterone, at regular levels, has a sedative effect, so combine low progesterone levels with lowered estrogen levels (which cause you to be super hot), and you’re bound to throw off your sleep cycle.
15. Your period blood comes in all sorts of colors
Yes, the color of your period blood can mean different things for you. A brighter red color means that you are actively bleeding, while brown blood can mean it was leftover from your last cycle. When the blood stays for a longer time, it has time to oxidize, which makes it change colors.
Pink period blood usually appears at the beginning or end of your period, or when you are spotting in between periods. It usually means that the little bit of blood mixes with cervical fluid to dilute its color.
Orange discharge during your period comes from the same type of situation where you find pink period blood, and dark red period blood usually is there when blood has been sitting in your uterus for a long period, like after you wake up or have been lying down.
And believe it or not, black blood is usually okay too. Don’t freak out. Blood that looks black usually just means that it’s older blood that has taken some time to leave your uterus.
Gray period blood, though, is one color that you need to visit a doctor for. A grayish color of blood can mean that you have an infection. It can also come with pain, itching, odor, and a fever.
Emily Francos is an experienced writer and editor. Her work has been featured in Unwritten and MSN, The Urban Writers, and more.